- Workers on the US-Mexico wall set off explosions on the border even after President Biden took office.
- Footage from Inauguration Day shows dynamiting work for Trump’s doomed border wall.
- Biden later signed a proclamation mandating that the work end within 7 days.
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Contractors in Arizona kept setting off dynamite for former President Donald Trump’s southern border wall on Inauguration Day, even after President Joe Biden had taken office.
Footage from Guadalupe Canyon, in Arizona’s Peloncillo Mountains, shows blasting work at around 11.30 a.m. local time, or 1.30 p.m. in Washington DC. Biden had been sworn in just before midday.
It was recorded by photographer John Darwin Kurc, who posted it on Twitter:
Campaigners have criticised the continued construction, characterising it as needless environmental destruction and a waste of taxpayer money.
Hours after the explosion, Biden signed a proclamation ordering construction work to pause, part of a flurry of actions to undo the work of his predecessor.
The proclamation rescinded the emergency declaration that allowed Trump to fund the border wall, calling it “unwarranted.”
It ordered the work to halt “as soon as possible,” but gave contractors up to seven days to stop.
The document stopped short of declaring a definitive end to the project. Instead, it ordered a review of all contracts and the consequences of “terminating or repurposing” them.
But it signals a step in the direction of Biden’s campaign trail promise, that “not another foot of wall” would be built under his presidency.
Insider’s footage shows that did continue in the opening moments of his administration â€” consistent with reports that blasting had been going ahead at an accelerated pace in the last weeks of Trump’s term.
In that time contractors rushed to meet a target of finishing 450 miles of wall by the end of the year. On Inauguration Day, they appeared determined to keep going to the last moment.
Much of the work has been futile, campaigners have told Insider. Hundreds of tons of explosive have been used to blast paths through rocky, inaccessible areas of Arizona to make space for a wall that wouldn’t be built on time.
Insider was previously told by campaigners that this work was achieving nothing. In some areas, they said, it could actually be making border security worse by creating new paths through previously inhospitable terrain.
In December, a spokesman for the Army Corps of Engineers (ACE), which oversees wall contracts, said that contractors could be expected to continue work until told to stop.
Kurc, the photographer who recorded the Inauguration Day blasting, has been documenting the process for more than a year. He described the recent weeks of activity as “busywork.”
In the last year, a line has been cut through mountain ranges along the whole of Arizona, he told Insider, wrecking the landscape for little gain.
Environmental campaigners such as Laiken Jordahl, who works with the Centre for Biological Diversity, called the impact of the construction “an existential threat” to endangered wildlife in the region that was once strictly protected.
Native American communities such as the Tohono O’odham have seen sacred lands destroyed for construction, an act that tribal leader Ned Norris told Congress was “like building a 30-foot wall through Arlington Cemetery.”
Gan Golan, a community organiser working with the No Border Wall Coalition of Laredo, Texas, told Insider that Trump had put wall construction into “overdrive” since losing the election.
“His goal was to put as much in place as possible to make it harder for Biden to stop it,” he said.
“And of course the contractors were trying to spend as much of the taxpayer’s money as they possibly could before they feared they had to stop construction â€¦ And that means that every day counts, that’s why the day one declaration to halt construction is so important.”